But also baffling, at times altogether infuriating and can drive you to the brink of madness. Fortunately, we have Louisa Van Den Bergh, mother of Arthur, 7, and Toby, 5, and the founder of Lulubaby, here to enlighten us (and offer a few clever coping strategies).
Louisa set up Lulubaby to offer first-time mothers comprehensive antenatal and postnatal classes in locations across London. She has assembled a crack team of experts in their fields (including an obstetrician, midwife, paediatrician, breastfeeding consultant and nutrition adviser) to help soon-to-be and new parents to negotiate the web of birth and baby (aka – coping when that adorable little bomb explodes in your life). Contact them here and find details of forthcoming courses (including first aid, a parents’ weekend away, and weaning – alongside the pre and postnatal) here. Book right this minute for this Friday’s course, ‘Understanding your toddler – with play therapist and parent educator, Tessa Hardingham’ (9.30am – 12, £48) – click here for more information.
“I thought I knew what it was like to be challenged. I used to work long hours on a busy trading floor under intense pressure to perform. Before that I had muddled my way through an Oxford degree, somehow churning out two 3000 word essays a week to be declaimed out loud to and closely scrutinised by my tutor.
The greatest challenges were yet to come, however. No, it wasn’t the sleep deprivation and those early days of motherhood; no it wasn’t the juggling act that happens when no 2 came along – difficult as they both were. In all seriousness, it was – and still is – the challenge of little people asserting their feelings, their independence and their downright obstinacy. Quite right they should too, but oh, doesn’t it make life tricky when at the end of a long day, in Sainsbury’s, they decide to lie on the floor with rage because you refuse to buy them a Spiderman toothbrush?
I am constantly amazed at the ability of my two sons to delight and inspire me in one moment and exasperate and infuriate me in the next. In the early days, I had thought that I would be very strict with les enfants, so they would know “who’s boss.” Easier said than done when buying the Spiderman toothbrush is the instant way to dry those tears and make it out of the supermarket without too much of a scene. So over the years I tried varying tactics, depending on my own mood and position at the time.
What really made the difference to me and how I parent my children though were some simple words of wisdom from play therapist and parent educator Tessa Hardingham. Spending a few hours with her and some friends chatting about our children, opened my eyes enormously to some key truths about them, their behaviour, but also ourselves.
Understanding their needs, remembering to delight in them (sounds obvious doesn’t it, but when was the last time you really delighted in your children?) and, above all, looking at things through their eyes, has literally revolutionised my approach to parenting – for the better. I was, and still am, so inspired by Tessa that we (at Lulubaby) now provide a popular 2 hour workshop. It is not for parents of “problem” children, it is for all parents of little people just looking to understand their children and their (sometimes challenging) behaviour better.
Lulubaby toddler tool kit:
1) Delight in your child, spend time with them, be led by them in play, tell them how much fun you are having with them!
2) Listen to your child, really listen! You will be astonished by what they tell you sometimes, if you only give them the chance. Much bad behaviour is fuelled by the need to be heard or understood
3) Empathise with them and help give them the words to organise their big feelings; do away with “don’t be silly” (how many times have you said that?) and remember little things matter to them “yes it is disappointing the blue cup is in the dishwasher”
The next “Understanding your toddler” workshop is this Friday (10am-12pm, £48, Fulham)
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